Updated: May 19, 2022
Initial Release Date: May 19, 2022

“Rhetorius” on issues related to the ages and the length of life

Latest revision: April 29, 2022

First edition: May 22, 2020

Translator’s introduction

One extant version of “Rhetorius’s” Explanation is a revision that was composed in Constantinople in 884 or 887. It consists of 29 chapters, of which James H. Holden (Rhetorius the Egyptian, Astrological Compendium) translated the second part of ch. 24 as “chapters 99–101”, ch. 25 as “chapter 102”, the first part of ch. 26 in footnote 2 for “chapter 104”, ch. 28a as “chapter [118]”, and chs. 12 and 13 as Appendices IV and V, respectively. Also, chapters 57–83 of Holden’s translation often contain passages or sections that are in fact from this Revision, not from the extant version of Explanation.

The Revision is extant in three primary manuscripts: in B (Pa10, chs. 1–28a on ff. 1–24v) as well as in Z (Pa9, chs. 1.0–28 on ff. 5v–33v) and H (Ve7, chs. A95–A119 on ff. 100–115).

16. On the ages of life (single column)

(1) (He1 says) that for the one that is examining the matters concerning the ages of life, it is necessary to use all the methods of Ptolemy, Valens, and the Egyptians, but in particular, they must also be supplemented with the ruler of the year that leaves off, the (stars) regarding the ruler, the transmissions and acquisitions of this year, the adherences that are formed, and the periods of the stars by degree — as Valens taught in chapter 2 of book VI — as well as with the complete rising times, periods, and returns of the signs and the stars, [and] their mutual returns according to the half, one-third, and two-thirds — as Valens said in chapters 4–6 of book VII; for he tells about the ages of life on the basis of the periods of the stars and the ascensions of the signs with examples. (2) Also, investigate the distribution of the (Lots of) Fortune and Daimon; for if you examine all these consistently and in a logical order, you will not be able to utterly fail in reckoning about the ages of life.

(3) Phnaës the Egyptian2 and Valens in chapter 33 of his book III say that one needs to examine how the domicile-master of the birth is situated concerning its appearance [and] place. (4) If he is pivotal, he allots his complete years, but if he should be under the beams or in declination, he allots his minor years, months, days, or hours. (5) If he should be together with the Lot of Fortune, examine by how many hours he is remote from the pivot, and multiply the number of his complete or minor years, months, days, or hours by twelve, subtracting one-twelfth for each hour, and say that (the native) will live as long time as the remainder is. (6) In this manner, if the domicile-master should happen to be between the Hour-Marker and the Midheaven or the ninth or eighth place, do the releasing of the hours from the Hour-Marker to the domicile-master. (7) However, if the domicile-master should happen to be between the Setting and the fourth or third or second place, do the releasing from the Setting to the domicile-master.

1 Presumably, Ῥητόριος.

2 An unknown author, whose only other testimony is found in “Rhetorius”, Explanation 5.15, where he is mentioned together with Antigonus of Nicaea.

3 The manuscripts write “chapter 5.” In this chapter (3.3.2), Valens specifically mentions a certain “man of old”, who should be, therefore, Phnaës.